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3 Common Dishwasher Clog Spots Unveiled

Published on March 12, 2024
Written by kristinia

Have you ever opened your dishwasher, expecting sparkling dishes, only to find them as dirty as before? It’s frustrating, right? 

At Full Speed Plumbing, we understand the importance of a smoothly running home, and a clogged dishwasher can throw a wrench in your day-to-day life. That’s why, armed with years of expertise in plumbing services, repairs, and maintenance, we’re here to shed light on those pesky spots where clogs love to hide. 

Our mission? 

To ensure your dishwasher runs at full speed, without a hitch. 

Join our team at Full Speed Plumbing as we deep-dive into the common culprits of dishwasher clogs and share expert advice on preventing them, ensuring a seamless kitchen experience.

3 Common Locations for Dishwasher Clogs

Here are three of the most common locations for dishwasher clogs that homeowners should be aware of:

Air Gap

The air gap prevents dirty water from flowing back into the dishwasher. However, it can become the top spot for clogs. Bits of food and debris can accumulate here, obstructing the water flow. Keeping an eye on the air gap and cleaning it regularly can save you from unexpected water backflow and ensure cleaner dishes.

Drain Hose

This flexible pipe connects your dishwasher to the drainpipe under the sink or the garbage disposal. Clogs often occur when food particles, grease, or soap scum build up inside the hose. A clogged drain hose can prevent water from draining out of the dishwasher correctly, leading to standing water and potentially causing odors or further plumbing issues.

Filtration System

Dishwashers often have a removable filter to catch food particles and prevent them from redepositing on dishes. Over time, if not cleaned regularly, this filter can become so clogged that it reduces the efficiency of your dishwasher. Regular filtration system maintenance is key to ensuring your dishwasher operates smoothly, and your dishes come out sparkling clean.

By being proactive with these common clog spots, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of dishwasher woes and ensure your appliance runs efficiently. Remember, a little maintenance goes a long way in keeping your kitchen routine uninterrupted and stress-free.

Signs of a Clogged Dishwasher:

If you’re noticing that your dishes aren’t as sparkling clean as they should be, it might be due to a clogged dishwasher. Here are a few key signs to watch out for:

Water Not Draining Properly

After a wash cycle finishes, if you find water standing at the bottom of your dishwasher, it’s a clear sign of a clog. Proper draining is crucial for the dishwasher’s performance, so if water isn’t leaving the appliance as it should, it’s time to investigate further. 

Unpleasant Odors

An unmistakable sign of a clog is the smell emanating from your dishwasher. If you’re greeted by unpleasant odors when you open the door, it’s likely due to food particles or grease buildup in the system. Regular cleaning can prevent these odors, but once they’re present, it’s an alert to check for clogs. 

Visible Buildup

If you can see food particles, grease, or soap residue in the bottom of your dishwasher, around the filter, or in the air gap, you’re likely dealing with a clog. Visible buildup indicates that the water can’t flow freely and carry debris away.

By staying alert to these signs, you can prevent the inconvenience of a clogged dishwasher. When these symptoms appear, regular maintenance and prompt action can save you from unwanted headaches down the line. Remember, a little attention goes a long way in ensuring your dishwasher runs smoothly and supports a stress-free kitchen environment.

Preventing Dishwasher Clogs

Regular dishwasher maintenance and cleaning are crucial for optimal performance and longevity. A well-maintained dishwasher not only ensures clean, spotless dishes but also contributes to a healthier, more hygienic kitchen environment. 

To prevent common dishwasher clogs, here are key practices:

  • Regular Cleaning: Make it a habit to regularly clean the filters and spray arms of your dishwasher. This prevents the accumulation of food particles and grease, which are the primary causes of clogs.
  • Rinse Dishes: Although modern dishwashers are quite powerful, rinsing dishes before loading them can significantly reduce the risk of clogs by minimizing the food debris entering the system.

Tips for Proper Usage of Detergents

Do you struggle every time it comes to using a dishwashing detergent? You’re not alone. That’s why we’ve put together a useful list of tips that you can use:

  • Right Amount: Use the correct amount of detergent as recommended by the manufacturer. Excessive detergent can lead to soap residue buildup, while too little may not effectively clean the dishes.
  • Suitable Type: Choose a detergent that is specifically designed for dishwashers. Regular soap or liquid detergents for hand-washing dishes can create too many suds, leading to clogs and inefficiencies.
  • Regular Maintenance Checks: Occasionally, run a maintenance wash by setting your dishwasher on its highest temperature cycle without dishes. This can be done with a specialty cleaning agent or a simple home solution like vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container placed on the top rack. This helps in removing any built-up grease and limescale, ensuring smooth operation.

Adopting these preventative measures and utilizing detergents appropriately can significantly reduce the likelihood of dishwasher clogs, maintain the appliance’s efficiency, and extend its lifespan. A proactive approach to dishwasher maintenance saves time and money in the long run and keeps your dishes sparkling after every wash.


Maintaining a dishwasher in top condition requires awareness and regular maintenance. By understanding the standard locations for dishwasher clogs—such as the air gap, drain hose, and filtration system—and recognizing the signs of these clogs, including standing water, unpleasant odors, and visible buildup, homeowners can take proactive steps to prevent these issues. 

Implementing preventative measures, such as regular cleaning, appropriate rinsing of dishes before loading, and correct usage of detergents, can significantly reduce the occurrence of clogs. These actions ensure that your dishes emerge spotlessly clean and contribute to your dishwasher’s efficiency and longevity, making your kitchen routine smoother and more hygienic.

For those who may need professional assistance or have concerns about their dishwasher’s performance, Full Speed Plumbing in Mount Vernon, Washington, stands ready to provide expert help. Whether it’s routine maintenance, addressing clogs, or upgrading your dishwasher, our team is committed to ensuring your appliance operates flawlessly. 

Give us a telephone call today to ensure your dishwasher continues to support a stress-free kitchen environment.

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